Published on October 28, 2021 by Sean Flynt  
Miller Pettway Davidson
(L-R) Niya Pickett Miller, Kaylar Pettway, Theresa Davidson

Samford University professors Theresa Davidson and Niya Pickett Miller, and student Kaylar Pettway, presented timely interdisciplinary research at the Mid-South Sociological Association Annual Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina, Oct. 21.

Using content analysis of mainstream and Black-oriented news media, the group investigated the representation of Black girls and women in interactions with police. Miller said the project revealed notable differences between Black-oriented and mainstream media characterizations of those interactions. “Specific patterns that emerge include the perspective of 'experts,' context and community, agency, and humanization/dehumanization,” she said. The group presented their findings and led a discussion of how different news sources can shape understanding of Black girls and women, particularly their experiences with police violence.

Miller is a professor in Samford’s Department of Communication and Media. Davidson is director of the sociology program in the Department of Geography and Sociology. Pettway is a student in the Department of Psychology. Their project was supported by a Howard College of Arts and Sciences (HCAS) ASPIRE grant, a donor-funded program that makes possible one-on-one, faculty-guided summer research experiences for HCAS undergraduates.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 66th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 104th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,683 students from 47 states and 19 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference, and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.